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«Theban Tomb 65, after its pharaonic, ’pre-Christian’ past, became part of an anchorite establishment, the so-called Monastery of Cyriacus.2 Since ...»

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Andrea Hasznos, Writings and Readings of the Monks at TT 651

Theban Tomb 65, after its pharaonic, ’pre-Christian’ past, became part of an anchorite

establishment, the so-called Monastery of Cyriacus.2 Since the excavation season 1997,

besides the pharaonic finds, Coptic archaeological and textual material also came to light

from in and around the tomb, and since the 1998 season, work on the permanently found

Coptic ostraca, papyri as well as the archaeological material, has been ongoing.

So far some 300 ostracon and papyrus fragments have been unearthed by the Hungarian Mission led by Tamás Bács, with some almost complete, numerous damaged and quite a lot of badly damaged pieces with little or no information at all. As in the neighbouring reused tombs, the main writing material is pottery and limestone, the second is papyrus and only in one instance do we find some writing on a piece of wood. The walls although do not carry any major Coptic or Greek inscriptions, they bear the traces of the Coptic inhabitants: they systematically ’neutralised’ the pharaonic paintings, figures on the wall which they considered to be demonic, carved out their eyes and the vulva with stones and sherds, and blurred their faces and the inscriptions with mud (Northern Front Wall), what they did not destroy, they christianised – carved (Northern Rear Wall) and drew (with carbon, on every wall) a cross on the figure; on the Southern Front Wall there are three small drawings depicting a saint on horse.

Besides the physical remains such as the loom-pits, somas or grain-bins, a double anchorite burial with mummies (one nearly intact), and the pottery vessels, 3 the written material also gives information on the inhabitants’ everyday life and also on their spiritual-intellectual interests. We shall start with the latter.

In the season 2003 two pieces of a beautiful papyrus were discovered4 which show that the brothers here, not susprisingly, read the Bible. The two fragments match and give out John 21,18 and 21,21-22. At this point, it is not possible to say whether it was a Gospel or a Lectionary like the one found by Winlock and Crum (P.Mon.Epiph.583).5 Another literary text is on an amphora, and is a Shenoute homily. 6 It was not intact, to say the least, it came out piece by piece and the pieces were put together my the restorer, Gyula Tóth.

Stephen Emmel made important observations on the text: it might safely be assumed that the present text is a continuation of a fragment published by Ariel Shisha-Halevy7 and is an This research was supported by the János Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

BÁCS, T. A., ”First Preliminary Report on the Work of the Hungarian Mission in Thebes in Theban Tomb N◦ 65 (Nebamun/Imiseba)” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Arhcäologischen Instituts Kairo 54 (1998) 49-64, esp.

53; BÁCS, T. A., ”The so-called ’Monastery of Cyriacus’ at Thebes” Egyptian Archaeology 17 (2000) 34-36.

BÁCS, T., ’The so-called ’Monastery of Cyriacus’ at Thebes’, EA 17 (2000), 34-36.; BECHTOLD, E., Reinterpretation of Coptic Looms Based on Material from TT 65, in: K. ENDREFFY, A. GULYÁS (eds.) Proceedings of the 4th Central European Conference of Young Egyptologists, Budapest 2006 (Studia Aegyptiaca XVIII), Budapest 2007, 51-62.; BECHTOLD, E., A Monk’s Decorated Shirt from Egypt, in: KÚT 7 (2008), 81-90.

Description, photo and an English translation by the present author, in BÁCS, T.A. – FÁBIÁN, Z.I. – SCHREIBER, G. – TÖRÖK, L. (eds.), Hungarian Excavations in the Theban Necropolis. A Celebration of 102 Years of Fieldwork in Egypt, Budapest 2009, No. 75 (Reg. No. 436b) CRUM,W.E. – EVELYN WHITE, H. G., The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Part II. Coptic Ostraca and Papyri. Greek Ostraca and Papyri, New York 1926 HASZNOS, A., ’A Shenute Homily Found at TT 65’, Enchoria 30 (2006/2007); Description, photo and the English translation is published in BÁCS, T.A. – FÁBIÁN, Z.I. – SCHREIBER, G. – TÖRÖK, L. (eds.), Hungarian Excavations in the Theban Necropolis. A Celebration of 102 Years of Fieldwork in Egypt, Budapest 2009, No.

76 (Reg. No. 434c) SHISHA-HALEVY, A., ”Unpublished Shenoutiana in the British Library” Enchoria V, 1975, 53-109. Our text corresponds to the unfinished sentence on page 93.

excerpt from the discourse entitled Righteous Art Thou, O Lord and helps restore a lacuna therein;8 the writing was primarily addressed to monks by the way,9 instructing them how to lead a proper life, staying away from evil and sins. This excerpt, then, used independently, might have been a well-known, popular piece used on occasions on its own right. Literary texts on ostraca and vessels are relatively rare.

And also connected to the sphere of reading, education and theology: is a beautiful GreekCoptic glossary.10 On both sides of the ostracon, the first word is left without a Coptic equivalent. On the recto it is h kathy’É[hsi]s, on the verso o b]aptisceis. It seems very probable that these two words indicate the topic of the words to be listed in Greek and Coptic, they act as a kind of title, as indeed on the recto the words are in connection with ’catechesis’ and on the verso all are related to ’baptism; being baptized’.11 Greek-Coptic glossaries like that are rather rare, especially in Western Thebes.12 Parallels from elsewhere are a GreekCoptic glossary by the hand of Dioscorus of Aphrodito (late 6th century) published by BellCrum,13 and another glossary to Hosea and Amos from the British Museum (no provenance or date known) published by Bell-Thompson.14 Besides our finds, Winlock and Crum, when working on the neighbouring Monastery of Epiphanius, found some Coptic and Greek texts in and above Tomb 65 (’above TT65 in an unfinished tomb’ that is now TT-NN-24-) which they published.15 Among their finds from TT 65, the Coptic texts are basically letters, only one fragmentary piece, text 38, seems to be part of a literary text, as Crum put it: ”Phrases reminiscent of biblical passages”. 16 From the ten letters found, four are addressed to (Apa) Cyriacus, the others are without an addressee, but two have the usual ’your fathership’ in the opening formula which stands usually together with Cyriacus so these too may be letters to him. The four Greek texts found by them, are different: only one of them may be a letter, although the piece is very fragmentary, one is a list of the Coptic months on wood; the other two are literary texts: (P.Mon.Epiph. 583) fragments of a once papyrus codex containing parts of the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of John, the codex was possibly a lectionary, the other one (P.Mon.Epiph.594) is a hymn to an ascete or martyr.





EMMEL, S., Shenoute’s Literary Corpus, CSCO 600, Subs.112, vol.2, p.635 loc.cit.

HASZNOS, A., ’A Greek-Coptic Glossary Found at TT 65’ in: BECHTOLD, E. – GULYÁS, A. – HASZNOS, A.

(eds.), From Illahun to Djeme. Studies Presented to Professor Ulrich Luft, Oxford: Archaeopress BAR International Series 2311, 2011, 81-87 Baptism is a highly important sacrament in Christianity; it is the rebirth, the enlightenment when the new person is born, all the sins are erased and forgiven. As Vorbilder in the Old Testament one might recite Moses in Ex 17,6 and Ex 14, 21-22 referring to that is 1 Cor 10,1-2.

P.Mon.Epiph. 621 might have been a Greek-Coptic glossary: bird names can be read there in Greek, the right side is broken off, where the Coptic equivalents might have been. According to Winlock-Crum, there is a small papyrus fragment (Papyrus Nr. 21) with Greek-Coptic, double column in the Ferdinandeum at Innsbruck probably from Thebes (CRUM,W.E. – EVELYN WHITE, H. G., The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Part II.

Coptic Ostraca and Papyri. Greek Ostraca and Papyri, New York 1926, 207/fn.6), however, when I contacted the Ferdinandeum and tried to get some more information (possibly a photo) about it, I was informed that they do not know of its existence.

BELL, H. I. – CRUM, W. E., ”A Greek-Coptic Glossary” Aegyptus 5 (1925) 177-226 BELL, H. I. – THOMPSON, H., ”A Greek-Coptic Glossary to Hosea and Amos” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology XI (1925) 241-246 CRUM,W.E. – EVELYN WHITE, H. G., The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Part II. Coptic Ostraca and Papyri. Greek Ostraca and Papyri, New York 1926, texts (P.Mon.Epiph.) 38, 121, 151, 236, 242, 257, 266, 387, 413, 457, and 480 are Coptic; P.Mon.Epiph.583, 594, 617, and 628 are Greek.

op.cit., 7

–  –  –

Listing the texts shows that the literary interest was similar in the anchorite establishments.

Besides the Bible, the most favourite authors seem to have been Athanasius and Cyrill;

Severus of Antioch is also popular here, as Heike Behlmer put it in connection with the TT99 find: „ein weiteres Zeugnis für die Verbreitung der Werke des Severus von Antiochia unter den Mönchen der Gegend”23 ; another is Shenoute, whose sermons circulated in the Western Theban region.24 Walter Ewing Crum gives a masterful descritpion of the Western Theban Focussing here solely on Sheik Abd el-Gourna and leaving out the neighbouring sites of for example TT233 on Dra Abuel-Naga, Deir el-Bakhit, Gournet Mourai, the Ramesseum, etc.

WINLOCK, H. E. – CRUM, W. E., The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Part I, New York 1926;

CRUM,W.E. – EVELYN WHITE, H. G., The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Part II. Coptic Ostraca and Papyri. Greek Ostraca and Papyri, New York 1926 BOUD’HORS, A. – HEURTEL, CH., Les ostraca coptes de la TT 29 Autour du moine Frangé, Études d’archéologie thébaine 3, Bruxelles, 2010 The information on the text finds are from Heike Behlmer’s talk ’Coptic Documents from TT 95’ at the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies (Rome, September 17-22, 2012) BEHLMER, H., „Streiflichter auf die christliche Besiedlung Thebens – Koptische Ostraka aus dem Grab des Senneferi (TT 99)”, in: Beltz, W. (ed.), Die koptische Kirche in den ersten drei islamischen Jahrhunderten, Hallesche Beiträge zur Orientwissenschaft 36 (2003), Halle (Saale), 2003, 11 – 27.

Information on the website of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw (PCMA): http://www.pcma.uw.edu.pl ; also Antoniak, in: GABRA, G. – TAKLA, H., Christianity and Monasticism in Upper-Egypt, vol. 2, Nag Hammadi-Esna, American University in Cairo Press 2010, 1-6; Dekker, in: GABRA, G. – TAKLA, H., Christianity and Monasticism in Upper-Egypt, vol. 2, Nag Hammadi-Esna, American University in Cairo Press 2010, 21-31 BEHLMER, H., „Streiflichter auf die christliche Besiedlung Thebens – Koptische Ostraka aus dem Grab des Senneferi (TT 99)”, in: Beltz, W. (ed.), Die koptische Kirche in den ersten drei islamischen Jahrhunderten, Hallesche Beiträge zur Orientwissenschaft 36 (2003), Halle (Saale), 2003, 24.

As attested by the amphora text from TT 65, Frange’s Shenoute-quotation in texts 216 and 217 (Shenoute’s writings appear as something they quote, maybe they know it by heart), Epiphanius texts (P.Mon.Epiph.56, 57, 58, 65, 66 ?), in CO (CRUM, W. E., Coptic Ostraca from the Collections of the Egypt Exploration Fund, the Cairo Museum and others, London 1902) in text 459 a Shenoute Catechesis is listed with Biblical books in a list of books (and other things as well), and by the inventory of a monastic library from Thebes, 7-8th cent (Coquin, literary environment, where he relies on the actual remains, book lists and books mentioned in letters.25 That shows naturally, that much more books and works were in circulation and read on the ’holy mountain of Jeme’ than what the actual text remains show, however, some of these are further confrimed by the book-lists and references. The TT65 material is so far rather modest, however, it is also valuable as it adds two rarities to the picture: the limestone glossary and the Shenoute-homily on amphora.

Let us see now in what ways these texts were used in the communities, if not as books:26

- the amphora with homily in TT65 was certainly not meant to be sent as a ’letter’ 27 since it is a large vessel and the text has no introductory or closing formula. That is a difference to the Frange-archive where the Shenoute-quotation is inserted into a letter (texts 216 and 217) with the aim of teaching, but in our case it is the text in itself – it was most probably kept in the monastery to be visible at all times for the monks living there. They could read it while working or preparing food, and its topic is something that should be borne in mind daily: to keep away from bad, ungodly men, especially pagans and heretics, and refrain from sins and impurity. The role of such an inscription on a household vessel must have been of a beneficial and protective one; the analogy of this can be found in the decoration of Greco-Egyptian and Coptic textiles and vessels where motifs from Greek mythology and Christian symbols are depicted and believed to protect the vessel or garment and its user.28

- Now, the glossary seems more intriguing:

1. it might have been written by a Greek monk in the monastery who was trying to learn Coptic and for that he wrote down word lists to study. From the monastic literature we know that Greek-speaking visitors and monks did come to monasteries to stay or to visit, and in the Vita Prima (c.94)29 of Pachom for example, a monk named Theodore, who could speak Greek only, arrived at the monastery and he was lodged in with a monk who mastered both languages until Theodore was able to speak Coptic: kaiÜ ou(/twj u(podeca/menoj au)toÜn

e)poi/hsen ei=)nai e)n oi)ki/a? para/ tini a)rxai/w? a)delfw?= ei)do/ti thÜn e(llhnikhÜn glw=ssan ei)j paramuqi/an e(/wj ma/qh? a)kou=sai kaiÜ thÜn qhbaikh/n.30

2. Or it might have been written by a Coptic monk, learning Greek. Similarly to Dioscorus of Aphrodito (late 6th century in Aphrodito), whose Greek-Coptic glossary was published by BIFAO 75, 1975 as referenced by BOUD’HORS, A. – HEURTEL, CH., Les ostraca coptes de la TT 29 Autour du moine Frangé, Études d’archéologie thébaine 3, Bruxelles, 2010, 173), which mentions several of his sermons and also those of Athanasius.

WINLOCK, H. E. – CRUM, W. E., The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Part I, New York 1926, 196-208.



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